Denomination wants congregation out of historic Albion church by April 15

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 14 January 2015 at 12:00 am

File photos by Tom Rivers – The First United Methodist Church in Albion, built in 1860, is located at the corner of Platt and East State streets. The Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church wants the congregation to vacate the build within three months due to structural issues with the roof.

ALBION – The First United Methodist Church will be leaving a building that has been the congregation’s home for more than 150 years.

The Upper New York Conference of the United Methodist Church has given the congregation an April 15 deadline to be out of the historic building at the corner of Platt and East State streets.

Church members are working on packing up possessions in the church and cleaning out rooms. It will be an arduous process, said Terry Wilbert, church of the church’s administrative council.

Many of the items will go into storage. Some will be thrown out or recycled. Some may be donated to other churches or back to families.

The Conference discussed the Albion building during its meeting Monday in Syracuse. The church has a failing roof and replacing it, with a new structural system, is estimated at about $1 million, money the church doesn’t have.

The church has many large stained glass windows including this one of “The Good Shepherd.”

The congregation of about 30 families plans to stay together, to continue its Sunday School ministry and worship service. Wilbert said the congregation is negotiating with Christ Episcopal Church to jointly share that building on Main Street.

“It will be temporary and we don’t know if temporary is five weeks, five months or five years,” Wilbert said today.

The Conference wants to try to sell the building that dates from at least 1860 and is part of the Courthouse Square, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Wilbert said the Conference is reaching out to real estate firms and auction companies to market the building nationally.

The church has been using five wooden beams to help support the roof since December 2012.

For more than two years the church has rented tall wooden pillars to support the roof. That isn’t a long-term solution and those beams are costing the church about $15,000 a year. The Conference has committed to paying that cost in the immediate future, Wilbert said.

In the meantime, church members will be cleaning the site and boxing up valuables.

“It’s a daunting task when you think about how big the building is,” Wilbert said.